NFL looking into modifying, not eliminating, kickoffs

In an effort to make football safer, the NFL is looking at modifying the most dangerous play: kickoffs.

NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent, speaking at the league's two-day coaching summit on new proposed rule changes, emphasized the NFL is not looking to get rid of kickoffs, but rather revise them in hopes of making the play safer, per NFL Network's Judy Battista.

Vincent said he hopes to exit this week's meetings at the league office in New York with a kickoff proposal to bring to the owners meeting later this month. Any proposed modifications could be applied to the 2018 season.

The NFL has been tweaking the kickoff rule in an attempt to make the most dangerous play less hazardous. The league previously changed the spot of the kickoff (from the 30 to 35-yard-line) and brought touchbacks out to the 25-yard-line from the 20 to incentivize teams downing the ball. Both moves have had minimal positive effects on injuries on kickoffs.

More tweaking is coming.

The desire to change the kickoff has led to speculation the NFL will do away with the play at some point. We aren't there yet. One key is figuring out how to minimize kickoffs while keeping some semblance of an onside kick opportunity in late-game situations, so teams trailing have a chance to get the ball back.

Per Battista, the first day of the NFL's session will focus on the new helmet hit rule -- mainly on interior line play, how play will be impacted by the new rule, and how it will be enforced. Wednesday's discussion will focus on kickoffs.

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